Stand with your Muslim neighbors

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Photo: Jordan Goldwarg

If you have never visited a mosque, now is the time to do it.

By Jordan Goldwarg / The Seattle Times
December 1, 2016

[Jordan Goldwarg is the Northwest regional director for Kids4Peace International, a global movement of youth and families, dedicated to ending conflict and inspiring hope in divided societies around the world.]


In my work as the director of an interfaith-youth movement, I have had the privilege of visiting numerous mosques in Seattle and forming close friendships and professional relationships with many Muslims. Through these contacts, I have come to see Islam as a religion that espouses peace, compassion and tolerance.


On a recent night, I received a disturbing email informing me of vandalism that had damaged the main sign at the Muslim Association of Puget Sound (MAPS), the largest mosque in the region.

The following day, I received a phone call from a Muslim friend telling me that if a national Muslim registry is created, she will fear for her children and move her family back to East Africa.

These two incidents dramatically illustrate the anxiety that American Muslims are feeling, driven in no small part by a 67 percent increase in hate crimes last year over 2014, according to the FBI.

The vandalized sign underscores the critical importance of non-Muslim allies to stand against Islamophobia and support our Muslim friends and neighbors.

We need to defend Muslims for two reasons. First, as friends, we can speak out against bigotry and lend our voices in opposition to those who say that Muslims who speak in their own defense are simply trying to protect their own interests.

Second, we have the ability to make members of a targeted group feel valued and accepted as members of our community. So many of my Muslim colleagues have told me that community support is what makes this time of fear and anxiety more bearable. Continue reading “Stand with your Muslim neighbors”

“Make this my dream as well”

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Photo: King’s University College

In historic appearance, Palestinian offers one-state vision to a N.Y. temple.

By Phillip Weiss / Mondoweiss
November 30, 2016


Our two tribes not only have separate and different narratives, but we also have separate and conflicting ideologies. . . . We cannot find a way to live together if we continue to hang on to the two ideologies that we started with. We must find a new idea that is worth working towards, and change our ideologies in such a way that acknowledges the other as part of us, as who we want to be. . . . It’s a tall order, I know. But you really must move away from what I call the false view of democracy, which says that if I have 51 percent of the population, I can totally destroy negate crush delegitimize disenfranchise the other. That’s not democracy. The tyranny of 51 percent simply does not work.


I can’t remember the last time I’ve cried in a synagogue, but last night was truly extraordinary: a suburban New York temple hosted a Palestinian leader making the argument for one democratic state between the river and the sea. And the Jewish audience did not contest his description of human rights atrocities. And his Jewish hosts thanked him for opening their eyes to new ideas.

If there is a glimmer of hope that the American Jewish community can be redeemed from a tragic course, and that the peoples of Israel and Palestine can be freed from a blind alleyway of history, there it was last night, at Temple Israel in New Rochelle.  Continue reading ““Make this my dream as well””

Interfaith Leaders Turn Conflict Into Trust

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Photo: Daniel Acker / The New York Times

By David Bornstein / The New York Times
November 29, 2016


Democracy is not just a place where you elect representatives; it’s a society where you can make personal convictions public. And diversity isn’t just the things we like. Diversity is also the things you don’t like. . . . What are ways in which I can understand my fellow citizens? What qualities do they possess that I would admire? And what are fundamental things that we can work on together?


This month, the F.B.I. reported that hate crimes against Muslims in 2015 reached their highest level since 2001. In New York City this year, hate crimes are tracking one-third higher than last year; against Muslims they have more than doubled.

The election of Donald J. Trump has highlighted religious tensions in America, particularly with Trump’s proposals to bar Muslims from entering the country and to create a registry of Muslims living in the United States. But these tensions did not begin with Trump. In America, virtually every form of faith or belief has at some point suffered unfavorable reception by others; the victims include Roman Catholics, Mormons, evangelical Christians, Jews and atheists, alongside Muslims.

Four years ago, I reported on the Interfaith Youth Core, which trains leaders to build relationships and respect between diverse faith communities. The work has expanded considerably. The organization now has more than 350 active campuses in its network, and more than 1,000 colleges have used its resources. This year its founder, Eboo Patel, explained in a book, Interfaith Leadership, what this type of leadership entails and why he considers it vital in today’s world. Patel, who is Muslim, recently spoke with me about democracy, the responsibilities of citizens, and his fears and hopes after this year’s election.

[Continue reading here . . . ]